Ace Trumps Rivals in Classic
Haydock next for rejuvenated Exmoor raider
Revitalised veteran Ace High claimed the first 'Classic' of the Point-to-Point season – the Savills Lord Ashton of Hyde's Cup – at the Heythrop's annual fixture at Cocklebarrow on Sunday.
The winner, an ex-Victor Dartnall and David Pipe inmate, sauntered clear of Champion Novice Hunter Chase runner-up Connies Cross to record a facile 15-length success in the stamina-sapping 3m 6½f contest.
The 12-year-old, partnered for the first time by rider Darren Edwards, had recorded just one victory from nine previous attempts between the flags but posted his best performance in this sphere when second to the useful Temple Grandin at the Harkaway last month.
The son of Kayf Tara, who is out of the classy mare Celtic Native, is owned and trained by Exford-based Janet Ackner, the Devon and Somerset Staghounds joint-secretary and stud groom.
A jubilant Ackner was gaining compensation for a narrow defeat in 2012 renewal, the final Heythrop meeting to be held at the now-defunct Dunthrop. "We were second in this race with our homebred King of the Road so it's great to go one better," said the trainer, "we've had this race in mind for a while."
"He's very lightly raced for a 12-year-old. We never really found out what was wrong with him last season but it's all starting to come together now. He's best on flat, left-handed tracks and I'd like to run him in the Walrus at Haydock next."
Bridgnorth handler Philip Rowley continued his flying start to the season as Stoleaway scored smoothly in the Subaru Restricted Race.
The six-year-old Irish maiden winner always travelled well under Pete Bryan and Hunter Chases, including a possible tilt at the Subaru Final at Stratford in May, look well within the compass of this robust Stowaway gelding.
Rowley, enjoying his fifth winner of the campaign, co-owns the £8,000 Doncaster sales purchase as part of the 'Dealers Partnership.' The trainer said: "I think a lot of him. He's a very universal horse, tough and strong. He was bought to replace Charlie Wingnut and should give his owners some fun. Pete works for us full-time so it's great for him to have a winner."
Dual Irish Hunter Chase winner Good Egg caused an upset in the AGA Ladies Open. The 13-year-old was given an easy time early but jumped ahead four out. With market leaders Tugboat and Vasco Du Mee failing to land a blow, the gelding registered a comfortable victory under Sarah Rippon.
Rippon, who was celebrating her third winner, rides out for upwardly mobile National Hunt trainer Harry Whittington. She rents a stable from Henrietta Knight to train the imposing son of Exit To Nowhere.
Rippon said: "I'm very much a novice rider and can't really ride! Co-owners Dom (Wertheimer) and Char (Wills) have helped out a lot so credit goes to them. We've got him on lease from Harry and Lorna Fowler for the season and the aim is to take in a Hunter Chase or two along the way."
A tough performance saw the consistent Iberico (Sam Jukes) land the 17-runner King's Head Inn Novice Riders contest. The winner, under a welter burden of 12st 7lbs, has won 5 of his 11 British Points since breaking his maiden in Ireland in 2012.
One of five horses trained by Kirsty Adcock for owner Clive Bennett in Dymock, he winner survived a bad blunder at the penultimate fence before regaining momentum to stay on strongly.
Adcock said: "Iberico is more than capable of competing in Opens but these races suit him well. Sam is an old friend and although that's only his third Point-to-Point winner, he's actually ridden a winner on the flat in Denmark! He rode Raleagh House for us last season but he's earned his retirement."
Buck Magic completed an early season hat-trick after supplementing the Knight Frank Hunt Members race to his recent Barbury and Cottenham triumphs. The ten-year-old, owned, trained and ridden by John Smith-Maxwell, jumped alarmingly right throughout but still proved too good for his three rivals.
The victor has a 100% record for Smith-Maxwell since changing hands for £8,500 at Ascot last summer. The rider will no doubt be making the most of his novice status for the remainder of the season, now having ridden eight winners.
Smith-Maxwell said of his 30-length scorer: "I don't know why he jumped right. It got worse as the race went on but he always travelled well."
The biggest turn up for the books came in division one of the Carter Jonas six-year-olds and over Open Maiden as Cab On Times (16/1) finally put it all together at the 12th attempt.
A fourth success for promising 17-year-old rider Jordan Nailor, the winner is stationed with Belbroughton owner/trainer Stephen Rea.
Rea said: "He came from Ireland as a tearaway and it's taken us 18 months to teach him to settle. Jordan has given him a great ride. He's got a turn of foot and went five lengths behind to five in front in a flash. He's from the family of Cab On Target who couldn't win a Point but won 20 races under rules. He'll go into training with Mark Walford now and the Dick Saunders Hunter Chase at Leicester is a possible target."
The second division went the way of nine-year-old ex-hurdler Detank. The victory capped a memorable weekend for Cradley trainer John Bryan, who celebrated a double at Larkhill the previous day.
The winner was far from convincing over several obstacles but made up for it on the flat with Phil York, closing in on a milestone of 300 Point-to-Point winners, guiding the son of Oscar home by a distance.
Martin Oliver, partner of owner Julia Oakey, said: "He'd never raced beyond two miles but at least we know he stays now! He had a niggle after his last run under rules so we've given him plenty of time. He's a full-brother to Never Enough Time and I'd like to think he can progress from this. He'll be better on better ground."
Joey Kangaroo skipped home in the closing B. A. Hull four, five and six-year-olds Open Maiden race (2m 4f).
One of a series of store horses named after 'Peppa Pig' characters by previous handler Tom Lacey in 2013, the gelding had shown little in seven outings for David Phelan last term but was unchallenged under a hands and heels Dave Mansell ride.
A shrewd £1,200 purchase at Ascot last June, Mansell's wife Julie trains the six-year-old at their Hasfield base for The 'Farmers Arms' Partnership – a group of regulars at the Birtsmorton public house of the same name.